This is my understanding, and what I've cobbled together from various discussions with my Dr over the last few years:
1. Yes, insulin is a growth hormone, but
2. No, insulin BY ITSELF can not cause weight gain or loss
Insulin's role is to help your body convert glucose (which contains calories) into energy, right? The pink panther book I got in 3rd grade when I was diagnosed explained insulin as the "key" to let the sugar into your cells so your cells have energy. Without enough insulin, the sugar runs around in your bloodstream but can't get into your cells and your cells think you're starving to death.
Without glucose/calories to work with, insulin won't do anything weight-wise (clarification: insulin will still very much lower your BG, but thats to be expected and a side-issue to this conversation).
The insulin you take to balance your BG can/will help you "absorb" the food you've eaten. Although it might seem as though the insulin is causing the weight gain, the insulin is really just facilitating the storage/usage of what you've eaten and the actual cause is still just too many calories going in. If you eat more than you should (and there's no one-size-fits-all number here), even if your BG is stable because you are appropriately matching your carbs to insulin, you can/will gain weight.
If you take too little insulin and/or your BG remains high, you can lose weight but only because your cells aren't getting the energy you're eating. (When done intentionally, this is known as diabulimia. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diabulimia en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diabulimia
) While this may show up on your scale as lost pounds, there's so many possible side effects (DKA, kidney failure, blindness, etc) that I can't fathom how someone could actually think this was a valid idea.
That being said though, I don't think you'll find a single one of us on here who thinks its easy to lose weight on insulin, and to that my own personal theory is that the idea that you need to create a 3500-calorie deficit to lose a pound is based on a system with a well-functioning, and in-balance, metabolic system, which none of us on this board have. Yes, I can adjust my insulin daily to match the carbs and exercise I've gotten, but if I goof up and count wrong or go too far or not far enough or what-have-you, it makes it that much harder for all of the other systems that go into play to actually burn off those calories. (Not to mention the extra calories from treating hypos, grrrrr.) And, the pancreas and islet cells don't just produce insulin- there's other hormones/chemicals involved in the process (amylin, somatostatin, and some others I don't remember) and without those, even if you can keep your BG in check, you're still missing out on a few other hormones that help keep everything working in smooth order for normal people.
On a more positive note though, insulin in appropriate doses (appropriate to your particular life/body/activity/food choices) can help you lose weight if that is one of the missing pieces of a goofy metabolic system.
If you ask Google, insulin will make definitely make you gain weight, and will definitely help you lose weight. but it can also (according to some) cause hair loss and acne, so investigate at your own risk, and like everything else- your diabetes mileage may vary!
| current weight: 181.0